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From Ryan Lizza's recent New Yorker article on immigration and the GOP:

Dean Allen, a plump and friendly fellow sporting an American-flag tie, told me that he runs something called Spirit of Liberty; he's also helping Witherspoon's campaign. "Some of these people may be coming in here to get jobs washing dishes, but some of them are coming in here to hijack airplanes," he explained. "If you're down there trying to look at the people coming across the border, maybe a lot of them are just motivated by economics, and they want a job washing dishes or cutting grass. But I can't tell Jose Cuervo from the Al Qaeda operatives by looking at them, because they cut their beard off. It's like trying to get fly manure out of pepper without your glasses on, you know? I mean, not a racist thing, but they're all brown with black hair and they don't speak English and I don't speak Arabic or Spanish, so if they don't belong here and they don't come here legally, I want to know who's here."

Anytime someone prefaces a statement with, "I'm not a racist, but . . ." make sure to turn your bulls%#t detector up a notch or two. 

It's alarming to consider that much of the animus and fear behind anti-migrant politics right now is apparently attributable to a simple case of mistaken identity.  It bears repeating since it hits me in the face like a sledgehammer: "They're all brown with black hair and they don't speak English and I don't speak Arabic or Spanish." 

Translation: They're different from me in ways I don't really understand but that worry me, so they'd better make sure they keep their distance.  

Updated below - 12/11/07 6:10 p.m.

Marisa Treviño at Latina Lista wasn't shy about calling out the Republican candidates for a suspicious confluence of scheduling conflicts that prevented all but one of them from committing to a Univision debate earlier this year.  Por ejemplo:

It's very telling that the strongest advocate who hasn't been afraid to speak out for the Hispanic voters to his Republican colleagues is none other than Karl Rove.

Donde estan los demas?

"Where are the rest?"  Lo and behold, last night all the GOP candidates but one dutifully appeared on Univision in front of a Latino audience broadcast to millions across the country.  I guess someone in scheduling got the message that a debate targeted to a key constituency in danger of being lost completely to the GOP in 2008 was a higher priority than forever attempting to placate the implacable, one-note restrictionist wing of the party. 

On immigration lately, the GOP primary campaign might as well have been composed of Ron Paul, John McCain, and six Tancredos, for all the policy difference there has been between them. 

That changed a little on Sunday night at the Univision debate, if only temporarily. 

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